Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips has paid tribute to his mum for her integral run in his upbringing – revealing she often went hungry at night to ensure he and his siblings were fed.
Phillips has established himself as one of the best midfielders in England at his hometown club, earning senior international recognition for the first time in September.
Phillips has earned the nickname the ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ for his no-nonsense playing styleGetty Images
In an eye-opening interview with the Times, the 24-year-old underlined how big a role his mother, Lindsay, has played in him getting to the promised land.
“We used to live in a three-bed house, me and my brother upstairs in bunk beds, my little sister and older sister in the other bedrooms and my mum used to sleep on the sofa downstairs,” Phillips explained.
“I used to get free school meals. I’d see kids coming in with packed lunches, having sandwiches and chocolate bars.
“Some kids would laugh at me, saying, ‘You’re getting free school meals.’ I’d come home and say, ‘Mum, why can’t I have a packed lunch?’ ‘We can’t afford it,’ my mum explained.
“There have been times where my mum didn’t eat at night because she had to feed us. My mum worked two jobs to make enough money to feed us. Grandma would chip in for food.
“So what Marcus [Rashford] has done is massive [with getting the government to fund free school meals during half-term].”
Phillips has four England caps to his name, the last of which came against Denmark last monthGetty Images
Phillips also opened up on his relationship with his father, Mark, and how he speaks with him every couple of weeks from jail.
“He’s been in and out my life since when I was young,” he explained. “He’s been in prison, out of prison. He got into the wrong crowd, drugs, fighting, anything you can name.
“I look at the background of my dad. My Dad wasn’t brought up in the best situation. He never knew his father really.
“He got the name ‘Chalky’ because he was the only black guy in his school and in his neighbourhood.
“A lot of people still now call him ‘Chalky’. It’s crazy. He had a kid at 13, my step-sister, we’re very close.
“He and my mum had a relationship where they were OK for a certain point and then my dad would go off and just do whatever he did.
“My mum would lose patience with him and then my dad would go into prison, come back out, come back to my mum and then do exactly the same thing.”
Phillips’ father is based at HM Prison Wealstun, which is only a short drive away from the midfielder’s home.
Communication between the pair is mainly by telephone though.
He continued: “I drive past him every morning. I’ve been to see him a few times but I don’t like going in there and seeing him in prison.
“I’d rather speak over the phone. I speak to him every couple of weeks.
“He is proud of me. He’s Leeds. He’s lived in Leeds all his life. He rang me a couple of weeks after we’d been promoted [last season], and said, ‘Listen to this.’
“All the people who were waiting for a phone call in prison were there, all singing Marching on Together, banging on the walls.”
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